Ward-Kovalev Post-Mortem: Odds and Ends

WARD-KOVALEV POST-MORTEM. The crowd at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, Nov. 19, was overwhelmingly in favor of Andre Ward. The judges were disinclined to rain on their parade and scored the bout with their ears. They each gave Ward seven rounds.

This was a good fight but not a great fight. It was marred by too much wrestling, albeit there were no takedowns. The controversial outcome insures that the rematch will be even bigger. Remember when Evander Holyfield was accorded a gift draw against Lennox Lewis (March 13, 1999 at Madison Square Garden)? There was a great hue and cry that boxing fans would toss in the towel in disgust, leaving the sport in droves, but they came back for the rematch which was an even bigger spectacle.

Holyfield and Lennox Lewis had no intervening fights before their second meeting. Andre Ward turns 33 in February and Sergey Kovalev will be 34 in March, so let’s hope that their rematch follows the same template. It would be a shame if one or both went in a different direction and the inevitable rematch marinated beyond the sell date.

– – –

The odds factored largely into the pre-fight hype. This was ballyhooed as a “pick-em” fight. It is true that some very sharp people with deep pockets favored the Russian, but the late money was all Andre Ward who closed a 2/1 favorite at the host property, the MGM Grand. This grizzled reporter can recall only one big fight that was a true “pick-em” affair. That was the first encounter between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns (Sept. 16, 1981) where the odds in Las Vegas ping-ponged back-and-forth across 11/10 in the hours leading up to the fight.

– – –

When it was announced that Claressa Shields would make her pro debut against Franchon Crews, the first thing that ran through this reporter’s mind was “gentleman’s agreement.” RocNation wasn’t about to let their prize acquisition come up short in her pro debut. The ladies were familiar with each other from their amateur days. They could easily simulate a genuine prizefight. The expectation was that Crews would retire on her stool claiming an injury, as so many U.S. fighters do when they travel overseas.

I apologize. Franchon Crews came to win. Claressa Shields evaded her haymakers and won every round, but this was no stroll in the park for the two-time Olympic gold medalist; she had to weather a storm.

Later in the evening, Claressa was one of the most animated persons in the audience, cheering lustily for Andre Ward.

– – –

One of the ways to measure the magnitude of a fight is the number of celebrities in attendance. Michael Buffer’s roll call was brief, a reminder that the glory days of boxing in Las Vegas are in the rear-view mirror. However, there were more notables at this event than in each of the last three big fights in the city, two of which featured Manny Pacquiao. The loudest ovations were accorded comedian Dave Chappelle and Gennady Golovkin.

– – –

The announced attendance was 13,310. Midway through the preliminaries, had one ventured a guess, the over/under would have been 5,000. Those great swaths of empty seats eventually disappeared.

As Thomas Hauser and other writers have noted, this is one of the major differences between boxing and MMA. Boxing fans arrive fashionably late. MMA fans get there early. But this reflects something more than just established custom. MMA events, in general, have stronger undercards and that factors into the disparity. The Ward-Kovalev undercard was uninspired, and that’s being diplomatic.

When Sugar Ray Leonard fought Donny Lalonde in 1988, the chief undercard match was a compelling bout between Vinny Pazienza and Roger Mayweather. The chief undercard bout on last night’s show — the one that went last in the spot reserved for a “co-feature” — pitted Darleys Perez against Maurice Hooker.

Ugh.

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COMMENTS

-oldschool :

In re. Ward Kovalev-Ward, a good fight but not a great one. Kovalev won the fight, but Ward got the decision. All of the judges scored the fight 114-113 (seems a bit odd). This is the nature of Boxing today . The PPV charge was reasonable ($54.95) but the HBO broadcast was not very good . Frankly, Max Kellerman does not know when to shut up . Ward was highly touted as a great boxer and a superb tactician. Ward did land some good body shots in the latter part of the fight but he looked like Gene Fulmer with his mauling tactics


-Kid Blast :

In re. Ward Kovalev-Ward, a good fight but not a great one. Kovalev won the fight, but Ward got the decision. All of the judges scored the fight 114-113 (seems a bit odd). This is the nature of Boxing today . The PPV charge was reasonable ($54.95) but the HBO broadcast was not very good . Frankly, Max Kellerman does not know when to shut up . Ward was highly touted as a great boxer and a superb tactician. Ward did land some good body shots in the latter part of the fight but he looked like Gene Fulmer with his mauling tactics
Max tried to make a decent fight a "great fight" and he stunk out the place. As for mauling, that's Ward's signature. People forget he is borderline dirty. Whatever works. A draw would have satisfied me. After the Perez-Hooker robbery (which I actually called on Facebook), I suspected something like this would happen. This is why boxing has major issues. This should of could of been a colossus. Instead, it was a controversial so-so clinch-fest.


-Domenic :

I had Kovalev winning comfortably. I was actually shocked when the verdict was announced. I didn't buy it; watched at a local Wing House that carried it, so I couldn't hear the commentary at all. The undercard was terrible. Where I watched, people had absolutely no interest in those fights and instead were plugged into college football (I heard, 'who are these guys?' and 'hopefully this is the last one,' often). Remember the days when Roy Jones fought Bernard Hopkins on a regular HBO undercard?? Or those Showtime telecasts that had Trinidad and Terry Norris and Gerald McClelland?? This would've been a perfect showcase for a guy like Luis Ortiz. But the promoters/HBO insist on serving garbage on these telecasts. I think they'd be better off running a replay of Corrales-Castillo 1 or Foreman-Lyle instead of what they did last night. People might actually pay attention. Or bring Mike Tyson in to give his stand up routine. As for a rematch, There's really no mandate for it but it should happen. I'll probably watch the replay and perhaps then I'll see it more for Ward.


-amayseng :

In re. Ward Kovalev-Ward, a good fight but not a great one. Kovalev won the fight, but Ward got the decision. All of the judges scored the fight 114-113 (seems a bit odd). This is the nature of Boxing today . The PPV charge was reasonable ($54.95) but the HBO broadcast was not very good . Frankly, Max Kellerman does not know when to shut up . Ward was highly touted as a great boxer and a superb tactician. Ward did land some good body shots in the latter part of the fight but he looked like Gene Fulmer with his mauling tactics
I watched it live with a diff cast than hbo but rewatched it with hbo today and I can remember two occasions prob round 6ish where Ward ate two good shots from Kovalev and Max responded that Ward was doing good work hahahahahahahah hbo was totally biased to brainwash the viewers that Ward was doing more than he was it was insulting. I dont get why. he is terribly boring, they wont be selling **** with his jab and grab and pitty pat in the clinch punching.... Kovalev won this fight , he did NOT deserve to have his belts stolen from him and his dream of being a champion, with the dream and goal of unifying. What a horrible way to take from a man's life by being dishonest. These judges are fucking garbage.


-stormcentre :

I was reasonably sure that if the fight was close - if anyone - Ward would get more favor from the judges than Sergey. Even with all that considered, at best, I had it a draw between Ward and Kovalev. I didn't think Sergey would be quite as effective as he was, and I expected a little more athleticism from Ward. Kovalev fought really well and (even without the 10-8 KD round) probably still won the first half of the fight. Andre also fought really well too. Especially to get up off the canvas (against a Krusher KD) and claw back those points was a huge feat. Not sure Ward won all the remaining rounds in the second half though. Perhaps I will change my mind when I watch the fight again. I don't think Ward has fully recovered from his previous layoff and is in real top/elite shape just yet. Ward didn't always look sharp and good. But I guess you have to credit Kovalev for some of that too. As, even though (at the top/elite level) there are some holes in Sergey's game, he's still a force to be reckoned with. That said, Ward was starting to dominate in the championship rounds. In any regard, I think a draw-result is not unacceptable and/or unreasonable. Which means, if Sergey really did beat Ward, then awarding Ward with the win is not a huge robbery. I wonder what the final result would have been had this fight not been in the USA. Still, with all the above said, I reckon Ward will beat Sergey more convincingly if they fight again in America. Finally, the knockdown of Ward was a good example of how some Eastern Bloc fighters have learned to deal with the shoulder roll; whether it be by an early counter right over the top (as they're on/off balance) and/or as a result of various feinting and other misdirecting tactics designed to make the opposition falsely think a punch/combination is about to happen.
Storm. :) :) :)


-Skibbz :

I don't think Ward has fully recovered from his previous layoff and is in real top/elite shape just yet. Ward didn't always look sharp and good. But I guess you have to credit Kovalev for some of that too. Finally, the knockdown of Ward was a good example of how some Eastern Bloc fighters have learned to deal with the shoulder roll; whether it be by an early counter right over the top (as they're on/off balance) and/or as a result of various feinting and other misdirecting tactics designed to make the opposition falsely think a punch/combination is about to happen.
Fully agree with the above points. Ward was just that split second too slow throughout the fight for me. Of course he is wise and experienced enough to dig at the body at every opportunity, and I thought Krusher could have done a bit more with uppercuts now and again (never too often with someone like Ward). Also it was clear if Ward held his feet, he would be an open target for Kovalev. He had no choice but to run and when he did he was cut off, until the later rounds when Kovalev slowed down and started to chase. That said, a pity for Kovalev though I am sure he is going to be chopping trees and moving mountains in the run up to the rematch which surely must happen now, and I do not see Ward personally shying from it, although members of his team may be so inclined...


-stormcentre :

Fully agree with the above points. Ward was just that split second too slow throughout the fight for me. Of course he is wise and experienced enough to dig at the body at every opportunity, and I thought Krusher could have done a bit more with uppercuts now and again (never too often with someone like Ward). Also it was clear if Ward held his feet, he would be an open target for Kovalev. He had no choice but to run and when he did he was cut off, until the later rounds when Kovalev slowed down and started to chase. That said, a pity for Kovalev though I am sure he is going to be chopping trees and moving mountains in the run up to the rematch which surely must happen now, and I do not see Ward personally shying from it, although members of his team may be so inclined...
Yes, OK. Prior to the fight, here . . . .


->http://www.thesweetscience.com/forums/showthread.php?272167105-Ward-now-a-200-favorite&p=107998&viewfull=1#post107998

I had said that;


A) Sergey had too many holes in his game for Ward.
B) I am not completely sure that Ward is in appropriate/peak condition.

However, (now that the fight is done) I may have to reassess my (really critical and/or elite level) view on Ward and how he may fare with Sergey in the future. I do (at the elite level) still see a few holes in Sergey's game; that view has not changed. I may have underestimated Krusher's punching force. As (Jackson stated before the fight) that certainly changed Ward's game as soon as he felt that right hand in round 2. I always knew Sergey had good strength. But that strength had really only been displayed at the very top level against Bernard Hopkins. And a few fans, people, and commentators - in my view - seemed to attribute Bernard's obvious game-plan change within the Hopkins V Kovalev fight, to be solely the product of what Sergey hit him with; when in fact there was probably a few other
*factors involved.


* [SIZE=1]"If my memory and contacts serves me well; prior to the Hopkins V Kovalev fight Kathy Duva pushed back on both Golden Boy and Bernard/Oscar, and remained reasonably adamant that testing (of the likes that Bernard was not fond of) was in place for the Hopkins V Kovalev fight."

The upshot of all that is, that, for me and my analytical mind (and, even aside from what happened with Chilemba when he fought well against Sergey) it was hard to know precisely how;


A) Powerful Sergey really was going into his fight with Ward.
B) Effective Sergey would be landing the big shots against Ward; whom is usually pretty good at defence and taking power away from someone.

In addition to possibly underestimating Krusher's punching force . . . . . I may have also underestimated just how much Ward was away from - or off - his peak (super six world boxing classic tournament) condition. As stated above, I was pretty sure Ward was not back in full-peak condition, but I had thought and also heard he was close enough. Whether or not;


A) Ward's conditioning (before the fight) really was where I (before the fight) thought it was.
B) That Kovalev right hand did the rest and changed Ward so much.

That it made it appear that (I underestimated just how much Ward was away from his peak condition, and that) he had not returned to peak shape; I guess we will never completely know. Right now I need Ward - at light heavyweight and against some of the top guys/contenders - to show me some of that millimeter perfect precision punching and dynamic athleticism that he displayed against Froch, Kessler, and few others at middleweight and when competing in the above-mentioned super 6 tournament; in order for me to not slightly downgrade Ward's potential as an all time great and/or elite fighter whom can always reliably win. If I were to do that, and downgrade him, Ward would still be an exceptionally good top operator; just not "A" or "B" grade elite. But, this is a tough sport and as we all know from here . . . .


->http://www.thesweetscience.com/forums/showthread.php?272164912-Does-Floyd-Have-The-Right-To-Tell-3G-To-Step-Up-The-Definitive-Analysis-amp-Final-Word-On-Whom-Cherry-Picks-amp-Mayweather-Detracts-The-Most&p=104713&viewfull=1#post104713

I have probability algorithms to both design and run; so - just as upgrades do - downgrades happen. With Ward both, holding almost all the light heavyweight belts and also being promoted by someone that can put up big sums of cash for the promotion (including both the "A" and "B" {fighter} sides), Andre will now have a big target on his back and no shortage of challengers. Everyone will want a piece of him. And, that includes guys like Artur Beterbiev; whom I think - if given enough time to get in shape - would probably beat up the Ward I saw last weekend in against Sergey. Beterbiev is the real deal man; as an amateur he was both worshipped and feared. Many a potential opponent's bowels were turned to water when they heard they drew Beterbiev. And Beterbiev is just one of those aforementioned challengers that will be looking at Ward now. So, (aside from the fact that Ward better get ready for some very stiff light heavyweight competition - competition that's perhaps even {as Beterbiev is} tougher/better than Sergey) you would assume that before Ward rematches Kovalev he gets another fight in to sharpen the tools up. Perhaps all that needs to happen is for Ward to sharpen up a but and also adjust to taking a top-class/operator light heavyweight shot? Or put another, perhaps Ward needs to get (better) used to being hit by guys like Sergey. Hardly an inspiring task is it? Personally, (before the Kovalev rematch) I think Ward needs to fight (in an interim sense) someone like Isaac Chilemba, Eleider Alvarez, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, or Andrzej Fonfara (not Nathan Cleverly) next; and either blow them away and/or outclass them - for me to not downgrade him to (just) being exceptionally good. Actually, Oleksandr Gvozdyk may be a bit tough for an interim fight before the Kovalev rematch; as Gvozdyk is also the real deal too and possibly too much straight after Krusher. Anyway, they are my thoughts on what's happening with Ward. It's going to be very interesting to see where he goes from here, and whether he really wants the Kovalev rematch; immediately or otherwise. Because even if he doesn't want the rematch with Sergey, the fact of the matter is that - within the light heavyweight division - there are quite a few other guys out there that are already established and/or coming through the ranks that can present just as much concern and opposition as Sergey; if not more. Ward better start;


A) Familiarizing with being a light heavyweight.
B) Fighting top light heavyweights.
C) Adjusting.
D) Getting that (super six world boxing classic tournament) MOJO back.

Real quick. OK, with all that said, I still love and respect both Ward and Sergey. Cheers,
Storm. :) :) :)


-KO Digest :

Sad, tragic, awful robbery. Fading American boxing interests are crooked like the DNC. Many American boxing writers now being made (by themselves) to look like the MSM during the election. Kovalev won. It was obvious. Remove your heads from your collective asses.


-stormcentre :

Well, surprise, surprise . . . . Despite all my previous comments I watched the fight for the 3rd time the other night and I can see how some judges could score the fight;


Rounds 1 - 4; Kovalev [4 rounds calculated] - - - - (SK:40 - AW:35) - Includes a 10-8 round 2 for SK.
Rounds 5 - 9; Ward [5 rounds calculated] - - - - - - (SK:85 - AW:85).
Round 10; Kovalev [1 round calculated] - - - - - - - (SK:95 - AW:94).
Rounds 11 - 12; Ward [2 rounds calculated] - - - - (SK:113 - AW:114).

Personally, I was a bit surprised to come to that conclusion so . . . When I watched it a fourth time (mostly inspired by the fact that I previously didn't think you could score round 5 for Ward) some of the rounds I gave to Ward (such as 5 and 11) possibly changed over to Sergey. But then that also evened out - as during the same viewing some rounds that I previously gave to Krusher (such as 10) went back to Ward also; resulting in the same final score . . . SK:113 - AW:114. Go figure !!! All in all I watched the fight 4 times and sometimes the score came out in favour of Sergey. Let it be known that I went into this exercise completely bias free (as can be seen from my most recent comments about Ward) and the video I watched (deliberately) had no sound/commentating. This fight is quite deceptive as both guys had their styles suffocated and game-plans changed by the other guy, resulting in a fight that was largely without excitement - even though both fighters worked hard in various ways. Ward certainly respected Sergey and after the KD in round 2 had to be more careful than he usually does; but he adjusted and still came up with a tactic that - within reason and not attractively - worked for him. Kovalev was definitely uncomfortable and frustrated by Ward, particularly by the time round 5 arrived; but - even though he kept coming forward - he seemed as if he had both, the most difficulty adjusting and also issues with the fact that Ward was not suitably deterred by his superior Krusher-strength. Both guys missed a lot, including Ward. Many of Sergey's punches that looked (when I first saw the fight) as if they connected, were actually blocked and/or missed. Ward was better defensively than Sergey. Sergey may have been better offensively - I don't know, as both guys have different offensive approaches, missed a lot, and were made to work outside their comfort zones. Ward spent a lot of his time on the back-foot and/or going backwards . . . . . Which could have - perhaps even reasonably so - provided the impression that Kovalev was dominating. But, as Andre was doing this he was also/often defensively (and sometimes offensively) active; which is a *criteria for not awarding ring generalship to the guy coming forwards. *Remember, I don't make the rules. Also, when you put *that together with several of Sergey's forward rushes, where his punches looked good but missed and/or were blocked, it awards some rounds (ever so slightly) to Ward; provided you score this way - which is not (rules-wise) unreasonable. So, with all that said . . . . Currently my view is - surprisingly (even to me) - that the judges decision is fair. I (now) think;


A) The judges did a pretty good job and that the fight was;


(i) Difficult to score.
(ii) Ambiguously (in a scorning sense) and messily contested.


B) The fairest and best outcome for the fight is that it should be a draw; but Ward - or Sergey - as the winner is not unreasonable.

Cheers,
Storm. :) :)